With many of us suddenly finding ourselves with more time on our hands, taking up a hobby is becoming more popular than ever.
We all know hobbies can be great fun, but did you know they can also have fantastic benefits for your physical and mental well-being?
Sometimes hobbies get pushed to the side as our lives become more and more demanding, with other obligations consuming much of our free time.
Now that we are forced to spend more time indoors, with many of those other life distractions temporarily on hold, we are now realising just how important it is to have a hobby to fall back on.
There is a lot going on in the world at the moment and it is all too easy to slip into a doomsday mindset, but by taking up a new hobby or indulging in one you’ve loved for years, you can pull yourself away from the real world for a while, and return when you’re ready with a clearer head.
It doesn’t matter if you can only spare a couple hours a week or if you can dedicate an entire day to your hobby, by making sure to set aside a regular time each week you will begin to see the benefits.
Having fun and being creative are just as important as eating well and regular exercise, so to get you inspired to pick up that paintbrush or knitting needles, here are three positive effects hobbies can have on your body as well as your mind.
1: Hobbies reduce stress.
We all know stress is bad for us.
In high quantities, stress can lower the immune system, affect our ability to sleep, increase blood pressure, speed up the ageing process and upset the digestive system.
All of these effects impact our quality of life, which can then go on to create further problems.
Hobbies are a fantastic stress reliever as your brain is forced to focus on the task at had instead of running through the anxious thoughts in your head.
By focusing your attention on your hobby, you are living in the present moment and cultivating a more mindful way of thinking.
This gives your brain a chance to relax and wind down, and the long-term effects of this mental rest can help boost attention, reduce burnout and even increase the ability to feel empathy.
2: Improved focus.
We need to work on shifting our perspective on what it means to be productive.
There is a perception that spending long hours at work and skipping breaks means you are being more productive, but this cannot be further from the truth.
This perception is toxic and unsustainable. We are humans, not machines, and we need spontaneity and play to be happy and healthy.
There is evidence to suggest that taking the time to engage in a fun activity can actually help you to work more productively.
Having a hobby is the perfect way to tap into the sense of fun we all need in order to function at an optimal level.
When you participate in a hobby, you’re giving your brain a break which allows it to reset.
This means that when you have to face a challenging problem or a difficult task, you can think more clearly and are able to work through it more effectively.
This is an incredibly important aspect of having a hobby, because if we are giving our brain a chance to rest, we are able to focus more on every problem we face and every decision we make.
3: Hobbies help us connect.
We all feel lonely at times, and COVID-19 lockdowns are certainly making many of us feel a bit more socially isolated than usual, but thankfully hobbies have the ability to bring people together in a unique and beautiful way.
No matter what kind of hobby you have, there is sure to be a group or organisation of like minded people who enjoy the same kind of activities.
When we come together over our hobbies, it allows us to share ideas, inspire us to be more creative and try different things.
We may not be able to join physical meet ups at the moment, but there are many groups on social media where people can talk about their hobbies and share tips and ideas.
Many of these connections can go on to form friendships that can last a lifetime.
From reducing stress, increasing our productivity and connecting with others, hobbies ensure that our physical, social and emotional needs are being met, all while having fun in the process.
So what are you waiting for? Grab those knitting needles, pick up a pain brush and start creating!